Sep 9, 2009

Successful Query!

This is a follow up to the post earlier today about the writer who got "the call."

From Natalie Bahm:

Someone asked if I could post the query that worked so here it is. I actually had two fairly different queries that received requests but this was the one I sent to the agent that offered representation.

Dear Agent:

When eleven-year-old Ally discovers the neighborhood boys are digging a tunnel to an abandoned steel mill she is faced with a dilemma. Should she join them and help dig to the mysterious and seriously off-limits steel mill while spending time with the sixth grade heartthrob Paul, or should she tell her parents, end the boys’ fun, but save them from the accident that’s bound to happen?

Ally decides to join the boys in hopes her involvement can push them to make the tunnel safer. She initiates the building of supports and then helps dig for months (with many adventures on the way) before she and the boys finally break through to the steel mill.

But when two notorious bank robbers known as the Gauze Men find the tunnel and discover where it leads, they decide to use it to get to the perfect hideout- miles of industrial buildings surrounded by a fifteen foot fence, that no one has been inside for twenty years… no one but all the neighborhood boys and Ally. When Ally and Paul get trapped inside the mill with the Gauze Men, they must escape and get help.

Underground is my first novel. It is written for a middle grade audience and is complete at about 33,000 words.

I’d be happy to send you sample pages or the complete manuscript if you are interested. Thank you for your time.


Natalie Bahm

It's not the best query ever but I think it did a fairly decent job of describing the story in a way that might make agents interested to read it.

With this query I received 3 requests for full manuscripts out of about 15 query submissions. I actually felt the second query I wrote was much stronger than this one, but it had a smaller request request rate (about 1 in 10, instead of 1 in 5).

Some of the best advice I read about query writing came from this blog:

Hopefully something in here will be useful. Don't feel like you need to post the whole muddle. (Or any of it for that matter :) Thanks again.

NOTE: I posted the whole muddle ;-)

THE SECOND CHANCE (2nd revision)

Click here to read the original query.
Click here to read the first revision.

Okay - first, thank you to everyone who has been helping me work with this query. I feel like it is getting better each time I post it.

Dear Agent:

In an attempt to redeem his past, Jerry learns two things: the woman he loves is dead and when she left him seven years ago, she was pregnant.

With the help of a teacher named Amy, Jerry meets his son, Jake. They look alike but Jake inherited something from his mother – the disease that took her life.
Jerry falls in love with Amy and learns to become a father and just as everything appears to be normal, it all changes on the same day that Jerry is going to propose to Amy and Amy is going to announce her pregnancy.
Jake’s disease takes over and with his life in the balance and Jerry’s emotions tested again he must find strength within himself to hold on to his second chance.

THE SECOND CHANCE is a 67,000 word novel that encompasses a personal journey that most of us take at lease once in our lives.

My short stories have appeared in such publications as The Pike Press, Bright Light Café, and the Cynic Online Magazine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Jim Wisneski

A Writer Gets "The Call"

This just came in through the submissions post, I thought I would share it. Click here to read the query that was posted for Underground (although it isn't the final version that yielded The Call), and I extend the thanks to everyone who offers their feedback on any query on this site:

I posted my query months ago, just after you set up the blog. I never reposted but I did revise the query and first five pages (about a hundred times :) based on some of the suggestions you and others gave me. I just wanted to say thank you for keeping up this blog. I am sure it is a lot of work for you, but it is a great service for writers.

I got "The Call" last week and I'm sure it never would have happened without the help of other writers who gave their time to help my manuscript and query be the best it could be. Hopefully I can repay some of the kindness.

So thanks.